What does it take to be a great board member?

December 06, 2022

Career building doesn’t just happen in an office setting. Kick-off your career or enhance it by joining an organization that makes a difference, and that could use your skill-set. Katherine Cecala, president, Junior Achievement of Arizona, shares her top 5 tips to help you become a board member who stands out.

 

Katherine Cecala headshot

Katherine Cecala has a diverse background in nonprofit leadership, healthcare administration, law, industrial engineering, utilities and business — and she has served on more than 40 nonprofit boards, including Junior Achievement of Arizona.

“I’m passionate about volunteering, but I’ve found that you can have an even bigger impact by serving on a board.”

With this much board experience she knows what it takes to be a good board member. Here are her five top tips:

 

1. Be a passionate ambassador

In order to be a good board member, you must demonstrate a commitment to the organization through a passion for its mission. Talk about the organization. Share its stories.

 

2. Be willing to ask for things

One of the primary duties of a board member is to ensure that the organization has the resources it needs to fulfill its mission. That means you may need to help with sourcing money, people and partnerships.

 

3. Be an advocate

Bring your passionate ambassador role to an advocacy level. Meet with community and businesses leaders to get them to make decisions on behalf of your organization. This could include meeting with legislators to advance policy decisions.

 

4. Attend and participate in meetings

In order to fulfill your fiduciary responsibilities, you must provide oversight into your organization's activities, and you can only do that if you show up. Read your materials in advance. Participate. Ask “how can I help?” And make sure you know enough about the organization so you can talk about it and share its stories.

 

5. Make sure your board service is not about you

Part of your fiduciary role is to put the organization’s needs before your own needs. Learn the role of the board and advocate based on the goals set for the board.
 

For young people interested in joining a board, Katherine says the best advice is to get involved as a volunteer first. “Find out about the organization and see what needs they might have. And if you’re connected to a community that the organization serves, champion that connection.”

“Even if there isn’t a board position open, you might be able to join as a non-board member on a committee, and that’s a great way to showcase your talent.”

As for making contact, she says “don’t be afraid to reach out to a board member. Most members are happy to help young people in their career path.”

 

Looking to join a board? Hear from three U.S. Bank employees about their experience serving on a board of directors. Board service is just one way to grow your career. Whether you’re just starting out or you are a seasoned professional we have lots of career resources to explore.

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